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What caputulation? Obama has advocated for cuts to social security.

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  • scotpeden@cruzio.com
    Has Obama been an advocate for cuts and reform of social security all along? Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake says yes, and documents what our collective campaign
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 26, 2012
      Has Obama been an advocate for cuts and reform of social security all
      along? Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake says yes, and documents what our
      collective campaign amnesia has filtered out from memory. - Gary

      It's amazing when you vote for the lesser of the evils, that you actually
      get evil, as in, you get what you thought you were voting agasint. It's it
      amazing that Partyline Dems will fight Romney over this, and yet defend
      Obama on it? - Scott


      Can We Please Stop Pretending Obama is "Capitulating" on Social Security?
      By: Jane Hamsher Wednesday December 19, 2012

      Everywhere you look, the media narrative is that President Obama is
      “capitulating” to Republicans by agreeing to cuts in Social Security

      And I have to ask, where is this collective political amnesia coming from?

      Obama has made a deliberate and concerted effort to cut Social Security
      benefits since the time he took office. FDL reported on February 12, 2009
      that the White House was meeting behind closed doors to consider ways to
      cut Social Security benefits, and that the framework they were using was
      the Diamond-Orszag plan, which was co-authored by OMB Director Peter
      Orszag when he was at the Brookings Institute.

      The birth of the now-ubiquitous “catfood” meme came on February 18, 2009
      with this FDL headline:

      Hedge Fund Billionaire Pete Peterson Key Speaker At Obama “Fiscal
      Responsibility Summit,” Will Tell Us All Why Little Old Ladies Must
      Eat Cat Food

      As I wrote in August of 2010, Peterson’s keynote spot was the worst kept
      secret in town; I knew about it because I had been on a conference call
      with about 40 representatives of various DC interest groups, many of whom
      had received written notice from the White House that Peterson was
      scheduled to headline the event. But nobody wanted to go on the record for
      fear of jeopardizing their relationship with the administration in its
      early days.

      After FDL broke the news, Peterson was “disinvited” from the summit. Both
      he and the White House denied everything, but Robert Kuttner subsequently
      confirmed in the Washington Post that Peterson had, in fact, been
      scheduled as the keynote speaker that day.

      The administration backed off its immediate plans for reforming Social
      Security. The New York Times reported that they were “running into
      opposition from his party’s left” who are “vehement in opposing any
      reductions in scheduled benefits for future retirees.” But NYT columnist
      David Brooks reported that shortly after the summit, “four senior members
      of the administration” called him to say that Obama “is extremely
      committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways
      to reduce Social Security.”

      Undeterred, the White House began telling journalists off the record that
      they were interested in “establishing an independent commission (outside
      the congressional committee structure) to look at creating a specific
      reform plan.”

      In January of 2010, a bill sponsored by committed Social Security slashers
      Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad which would have created an official commission
      to make recommendations about the nation’s deficit was defeated by the
      Senate on a bipartisan vote — 22 Democrats and 24 Republicans voted no.

      After the Senate defeat, on February 18, President Obama issued an
      executive order creating what subsequently became known as the “Catfood
      Commission” anyway.

      Unlike Bill Clinton’s Danforth Commission, which ended in deadlock, Obama
      set this commission up in such a way that it was stacked with deficit
      hawks who largely agreed on what needed to be done: 12 of the 18 members
      were to be appointed by Senate and House leaders in each party, and 6
      would be appointed by the President. This virtually guaranteed that Social
      Security privatization fetishist Paul Ryan would be on the commission, as
      would Gregg and Conrad.

      Among the President’s six appointments:

      Chairman Erskine Bowles, described by Business Week as “corporate
      America’s friend in the White House.” Bowles had negotiated the deal
      between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton to create “private social
      security accounts” where “taxpayers get some choice as to how to
      invest their contributions.” The deal fell through when the Monica
      Lewinsky episode jumped into the headlines.
      As Bowles’ Republican Co-Chair, the President appointed loose cannon
      Alan Simpson, the former rich kid GOP Senator from Wyoming once
      famously said that those who were complaining that Social Security
      needed protection were “people who live in gated communities and drive
      their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount.”
      Alice Rivlin was appointed by Obama to be chief wonk of the Catfood
      Commission, a Brookings Institute fellow who had been funded by Pete
      Peterson and a strong supporter of raising the retirement age to 70 —
      resulting in a 20% benefit cut to Social Security recipients.
      David M. Cote, the Republican CEO of defense contractor Honeywell

      The composition of the Commission was conveniently stacked with 14 of the
      18 members committed deficit hawks looking to start balancing the federal
      budget on the backs of old people.

      And who supplied the staff to the commission? Why, Pete Peterson.

      Are we to believe that the President was blissfully ignorant of the
      agendas of the people he appointed to this commission, created with the
      goal of bypassing Congressional process?

      With the exception of a few public dog and pony shows, the Commission
      conducted its deliberations in secret. But on June 16 of 2010, Alex
      Lawson of Social Security Works blew a hole in that secrecy on the front
      page of FDL when he caught Alan Simpson on live streaming video as he was
      exiting a meeting of the Catfood Commission. In real time, Alex got Alan
      Simpson to say what everyone in the room was thinking but wouldn’t say
      publicly. Simpson told Alex that the commission was “really working on

      We’re trying to take care of the lesser people in society and do that
      in a way without getting into all the flash words you love dig up,
      like cutting Social Security, which is bullshit. We’re not cutting
      anything, we’re trying to make it solvent.

      The Catfood Commission ultimately failed it is mission, due in no small
      part to the work of people like Alex, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson of
      Social Security Works who have consistently been out there informing and
      uniting interest groups and educating the public to the fact that, yes,
      the White House has an agenda of cutting Social Security benefits.

      I don’t know why Obama wants to cut Social Security benefits. I do know
      that Obama has been honest about it from the start. In January of 2009,
      even before he took office, he told the Washington Post that he believed
      Social Security was a broken system and that “entitlement reform” was
      something he wanted to achieve during his tenure in office:

      Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the
      difficult choices–particularly in regards to entitlement programs like
      Social Security and Medicare – should be made on his watch. “We’ve
      kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road,”
      he said.

      Perhaps Obama wants to do what Bill Clinton couldn’t do. It’s clear the
      oligarch class has decided that this is what must happen, and that in
      order to be considered a “serious” person, this is what a President must
      do. Perhaps Obama simply wants to be considered a “serious person” by
      those in the ruling class.

      But it’s clear that he did not arrive at the decision to “reform” Social
      Security and cut benefits because he is a poor negotiator, or because of
      Republican arm twisting. It defies all logic and reason to look at his
      actions over the years and think that the President is now “capitulating”
      on Social Security.

      The President has been very forthcoming about the fact that cutting Social
      Security benefits is something he wants to do. When he said during the
      debate that he didn’t differ from Mitt Romney on entitlement reform, he
      meant it. It’s time for people to remove the rose-colored glasses and
      stop projecting their own feelings on to the man. It’s time to take him
      at his word.
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